Colombia | Flyway Colombia: Atlantic Coast and Santa Marta Mountains

Colombia | Flyway Colombia: Atlantic Coast and Santa Marta Mountains

About this trip

With over 1,900 avian species — more than any other country in the world — Colombia is a birder’s paradise waiting to be discovered. This 9-day program focuses on the country’s northern highlights, including the Caribbean region and the Santa Marta Mountains, famed for their high level of endemic species. Explore high elevation mountains, dry forest, and coastal habitats in search of an array of tropical avifauna, including flycatchers, hummingbirds, tanagers, toucans, and more. Throughout your journey, meet members of the local community and learn about conservation efforts to use birding as a sustainable development resource.

About Flyway Expeditions

Holbrook Travel is a supporting partner in Audubon and its partners’ conservation work in Latin America and in the Caribbean. Participants on these tours have a direct economic impact on local people and communities, help preserve IBAs, and nurture an emerging ecotourism industry.  
Learn more about Flyway Expeditions.

Highlights

  • Be one of the few outsiders to explore birding-rich, remote regions of Northern Colombia led by expert local guides.
  • Bird the coastal wetland and mangrove habitats of Salamanca National Park and Los Flamencos Sanctuary along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. 
  • Explore the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain range in the world and home to more than a quarter of the country’s endemic species.
  • Enjoy several days of birding at El Dorado Lodge, the ProAves Foundation’s flagship lodge.
  • Meet the indigenous Wayúu people in Riohacha and learn about their culture, represented in their weaving, ceramics, vegetation, and gastronomy.
10 Travelers

$3,250

Land Cost

Group size

Book 9 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

Barranquilla

Day 1

Upon arrival in Barranquilla, you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. This is an arrival day and no meals are included. Check in starts at 3:00pm.

Overnight at Barranquilla Plaza

Riohacha

Day 2

After an early breakfast and program orientation, transfer to the Northern University to see the Chestnut-winged Chachalaca and then continue to KM 4 to begin the day's birding in the mangrove habitat of Salamanca National Park. The wetlands of this area provide habitat for numerous species of shorebirds. Target species will Bicoloured Conebill, Pied Puffbird, Stripe-backed Wren, Caribbean Hornero, Russet-throated Puffbird, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, Green Ibis, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Large-billed Tern, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird and more. Have lunch in a local restaurant and continue with the transfer to Riohacha. 4-5 hours from Salmanca - Rio. Check in at the Taroa Lifestyle Hotel in Riohacha which is the first Wayúu Lifestyle Hotel in Colombia. Every space in Taroa Lifestyle Hotel is inspired on the Wayúu culture, which is represented in their weaves, ceramics, vegetation, and gastronomy. The hotel is staffed with native Wayúu people.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Taroa Hotel

Riohacha

Day 3

Today we'll visit Los Flamencos Sanctuary and focus on the wetlands and shorebirds. Los Flamencos Sanctuary is an important coastal wetland and dry forest reserve created to protect a large population of the American Flamingo. This 17,000+ acre reserve of marshes, lagoons, and dry forest is also habitat to 185 other bird species (80% are migrants). We will also spend some time birding the dry scrubland where you will search for specialties such as the Tocuyo Sparrow, Vermilion Cardinal, Chestnut Piculet, White-whiskered Spinetail, Pearl Kite, Aplomado Falcon, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Burrowing Owl, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Brown-throated and Blue-crowned Parakeets, Red-billed Emerald, Buffy Hummingbird, and many others. Afterwards, we will visit the village of Camarones, where we'll learn about the Wayúu indigenous people. We'll have a chance to meet with our local guide's family, visit their home and learn about their arts and crafts, especially the handmade, colorful bags (mochilas). Have lunch at a local restaurant at Camarones Beach then search for some Key species: Vermilion Cardinal, Tocuyo Sparrow, Orinocan Saltator, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Buffy Hummingbird, Chesnut Piculet, Bare-eyed Pigeon, White-whiskered Spinetail, Glaucous Tanager, Pileated Finch, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Taroa Hotel

Santa Marta

Day 4

Breakfast at the hotel then birding en route to Santa Marta. The peninsula of La Guajira, which is located on the northern part of the country, is considered one of the driest areas and by lacking rainfalls throughout the year. The area is framed within sub xerophytic conditions, where low growth shrubs and spiny trees dominate the landscape and those special conditions are the ones that help maintain a unique diversity of species. The dry forests in La Guajira are distributed in territories from the Wayuu, an indigenous community, which is now accessible thanks to the good relationship established with them. The trails are basically sandy walkways in between shrubs and stocky forests, swamps and some creeks, which are dry through the majority of the seasons. Continue to Santa Marta, have lunch in a local restaurant en route. Check in at the beachfront hotel. Time to enjoy the beach or birding in the surrounding area. Elevation: sea level / Track: rural unpaved road / Temperature: 28 36°C

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at GHL Costa Azul

El Dorado Reserve

Day 5

Early this morning birding en route to El Dorado at Minca. The village of Minca is located on the foothill of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, at the northwestern corner of the region. Being on the foothills at low elevations, a dry forest ecosystem predominates across the ridges, whereas the pre mountain forest begins to transform itself above the village, mixing with coffee crops to create a green atmosphere and a home to many local bird species as well as migratory. It is a very active place for any foreign visitor and even birdwatchers. It is also easy to find some interesting species such as the Golden winged Sparrow and the Black backed Antshrike, which tend to be difficult to find in other regions of the country. En route we'll be birding in the humid tropical forest around the town of Minca, where we'll have lunch while watching hundreds of hummingbirds visiting the nearby feeders. After lunch board several 4x4s and continue up into the mountains to the beautiful El Dorado Lodge, the ProAves Foundation's flagship lodge. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, this area is home to a vast array of species, including the Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Santa Marta Sabrewing, Streak capped Spinetail, Scarlet fronted and Orange chinned Parakeets, Blue fronted Lancebill, Steely vented Hummingbird, Lineated and Crimson crested Woodpeckers, Ochre bellied Flycatcher, Cinnamon and White winged Becards, Black chested Jay, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Streaked and Grayish Saltators, Crested Oropendola, Thick billed Euphonia, and many others. Elevation: 700 1100 m / Mobility: Easy, rural unpaved road / Temperature: 24 30°C Lowlands of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. (2,620 7,550 Ft 59 77 °F)

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at El Dorado Lodge or similar

El Dorado Reserve

Day 6

We'll spend today exploring the San Lorenzo Ridge. The highest coastal mountain range in the world, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is home to an incredible 20 endemic species which account for 27 percent of the endemics in the entire country. Search for as many of these species as you can find along the altitudinal gradient of the San Lorenzo Ridge. Some of the species that you may hope to find in the Santa Marta Mountains include the Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Screech Owl, White tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta Woodstar, Rusty headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Antpitta, Brown rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta Bush Tyrant, Yellow crowned Whitestart, White lored Warbler, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta (Black cheeked) Mountain Tanager, Black backed Thornbill, Colombian Nevada Brush Finch, Bang's Wood Wren, Black fronted Wood Quail, White tipped Quetzal, White rumped Hawk, Band tailed Guan, Sickle winged Guan, Band tailed Pigeon, Scarlet fronted Parakeet, Red billed Parrot, Masked Trogon, Golden olive Woodpecker, Yellow billed (Groove billed) Toucanet, Emerald Toucanet, Montane Foliage gleaner, Spotted Barbtail, Streaked Xenops, Gray throated Leaftosser, Strong billed Woodcreeper, Rusty breasted Antpitta, Rufous Antpitta, Mountain Elaenia, Black capped Tyrannulet, Venezuelan and White throated Tyrannulets, Olive striped Flycatcher, Black throated Tody Tyrant, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Yellow bellied Chat Tyrant, Golden breasted Fruiteater, Orange billed and Slaty backed Nightingale Thrushes, Great Thrush, Black hooded Thrush, Slate throated Redstart, Three striped Warbler, White sided Flowerpiercer, Blue naped Chlorophonia and many others.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at El Dorado Lodge or similar

El Dorado Reserve

Day 7

El Dorado Natural Reserve is located on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, inside a matrix of cloud forests. It is the perfect place for hiking and searching endemic species over this isolate range on the mountains or to simply sit and enjoy the birds that visit the feeders overlooking the Caribbean Sea on the foothills of the mountain. Since it is located at a mid altitude inside the highlands, it is the ecotone between lower mountain forests and higher cloud forests, which creates a confluence of species from both areas. The Natural Reserve has one of the most recognized eco lodges in the country and it is known for its incredible feeders for hummingbirds (some of which are endemic), tanagers, guans, wood quails, making this experience in El Dorado truly an unforgettable one. We will spend the day birding for the Santa Marta Foliage gleaner, Santa Marta Antbird, Santa Marta Wood Wren, Coppery Emerald, Black Hawk Eagle, Military Macaw, Red billed Parrot, Lined Quail Dove, Blue fronted Lancebill, Brown Violetear, Steely vented Hummingbird, Keel billed Toucan, Lineated and Crimson crested Woodpecker, Greenish and Forest Elaenia, Ochre bellied Flycatcher, Social and Piratic flycatcher, Cinnamon and White winged becard, Rufous breasted and Rufous and white wren, Black chested Jay, Brown capped Vireo, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Streaked and Grayish saltator, Yellow bellied Seedeater, Crested Oropendola, Thick billed Euphonia and more. During the northern winter months these foothills harbor a good number of North American breeding migrants including Swainson's Thrush, Yellow throated Vireo, Tennessee, Golden winged, Cerulean, Blackburnian, and Black throated Green warbler, Rose breasted Grosbeak and Summer Tanager. Elevation: 1800 m / Mobility: Easy Medium, rural unpaved road, hiking trails along the reserve / Temperature: 16 24°C

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at El Dorado Lodge or similar

Barranquilla

Day 8

We'll spend the morning birding around El Dorado Reserve and start our descend towards Santa Marta with birding en route. We' use the 4x4 jeeps until we reach Minca, where we'll have lunch and afterwards continue in our bus to Baranquilla with more birding en route.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Barranquilla Plaza

Depart

Day 9

We'll then leave to Barranquilla airport for our early afternoon flight back to U.S. Transfer to the airport for return flights to the U.S. Check out is at 1:00 pm.

Breakfast- included